The directors of a social enterprise have said people with autism are ‘losing out on benefits’ due to the changing over of disability payments.
Janet Wise and Robert de Jong, who run the Plymouth Autism Hub, say they’ve seen an influx of people who have their money cut.
It comes as the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is gradually being replaced by a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – but the two directors claim that the new forms people have to fill out to prove they have an illness, disability or mental health condition only skim the surface, and don’t look into how hard living with autism can be.
One Plymouth man who has been receiving DLA for the last 10 years has now had his benefits cut after moving over to PIP – because he didn’t score high enough on the new assessment.
But the Department for Work and Pensions say that although the criteria has changed, many people claming PIP are getting more money than when they were on DLA.
Janet and Robert who set up Plymouth Autism Hub say the new assessment system needs changing as it’s not ‘fit for use’.
Throughout their time running the social enterprise, the benefits change has been one of the biggest problems their clients have faced.
PIP is assessed on different criteria to DLA – it has a score-based system that relates to the help people need, with a list of daily living and mobility activities.
Janet, one of the directors of the hub which is funded by the People’s Health Trust, said: “It’s [PIP] the worst system. It requires a person to be absolutely ripped bare. It ruins self esteem – you have to say ‘here’s yet another thing I can’t do’.
“Autism is often very black and white – some people can’t give all the nuances [of their disability] all the time. The forms will ask ‘can you cook for yourself?’
“An autistic person would [be inclined] to say they can – but that might only be getting a piece of bread out and maybe putting a piece of cheese on it, and that could be every meal of every day.
“With autism, a huge part is anxiety, and this feels like a war on benefits. There are so many obstacles and pitfalls.